Holes in kidnapped model’s weird story

SNATCHED on a bogus photo shoot, a needle plunged into her arm, awakening bound and drugged, certain she would be sold into sex slavery.

It’s a nightmare almost beyond comprehension, and one that made sickening headlines when the world discovered it had allegedly happened to UK glamour model Chloe Ayling in Italy last July.

But then, amid the shock and outpouring of sympathy and the arrest of Lukasz Pawel Herba, on charges of kidnapping for ransom, with his brother, Michal, also accused of being involved, came the questions. The details that some thought didn’t add up.

As she broke down in interviews detailing her ordeal, Ms Ayling did not find universal sympathy, with some questioning her “odd” behaviour”.

Why was she alternatively chirpy and heartbroken as she spoke about the kidnap? Why, when her captor took her to buy shoes during the six days she was held hostage, didn’t she run? And when she was freed, why didn’t she initially mention the trip to police?

She’d said her mouth was taped, so how did she yell at the driver of the car when she was bundled into its boot?

And why her captor’s sudden change of heart? He released her after six days, she says, when he discovered she was a young mother.

Could it all have been a publicity stunt? Certainly, that’s what Herba claimed, telling a court in December he and Ms Ayling had orchestrated the whole thing together.

The Milan court dismissed the claims the 20-year-old mum of one was in on the crime.

But still the questions persisted.

LURED, DRUGGED AND HANDCUFFED

No matter how many times Ms Ayling denies the accusation, the doubts continue to dog her, even as Herba went on trial earlier this month in Italy for the kidnapping.

She tells 60 Minutes in an exclusive interview this week she is the victim, not the mastermind, of an elaborate publicity scam.

In court last week, Italian investigators and police testified Ms Ayling suffered physical violence, including being drugged, handcuffed and “brutally transported in luggage” when lured to Milan for an alleged modelling job which saw her held for six days at a farm near Turin.

But when his lawyers backed his claims the kidnap had been a publicity stunt, and offered explosive CCTV footage of her holding hands with him as they shopped for shoes during her captivity, the doubt in the court of public opinion surfaced again.

Ms Ayling wasn’t there to fight the claims: she’s been excused from testifying, although Herba’s lawyers are fighting that decision. Instead, she was reportedly off skiing, having jetted to Switzerland ahead of the trial.

But not before her lawyer told the BBC she was “saddened” many people did not believe she’d been kidnapped.

Ms Ayling’s lawyer, Francesco Pesce, said his client had been terrorised and threatened with death. He said she had suffered mental and physical abuse during the six-day ordeal last July, and that Ms Ayling would not give evidence in court because she did not want to see her alleged kidnapper’s face again.

He said she had been interrogated for almost 13 hours last August and her request not to return to Italy for the trial had been granted.

“She’s had enough,” he said.

‘THEY ARE GUILTY’

Ms Ayling’s 60 Minutes appearance sees her undergoing a grilling about the ordeal at the hands of reporter Liam Bartlett.

Asked if she is offended there are people who suspect she masterminded the whole thing and made the story up, she tells Bartlett: “It doesn’t offend me, no.”

She added: “Because I get it, there are people just picking parts of the story … So I see why people have doubts, because if it wasn’t me, I would think it was just crazy.”

She says she is “100 per cent” certain the brothers are guilty.

If they are locked up forever, she says, “well, so they deserve it”.

Bartlett quizzes her on omissions and inconsistencies in her story, including why she did not tell Italian police she’d been shoe shopping with one of her alleged abductors during the ordeal.

“I’ve heard of Stockholm syndrome, but not shoe shopping syndrome,” he observes.

When the BBC asked Mr Pesce about the hand-holding, he said “there is nothing to defend”.

“She doesn’t appear to be happy or smiley — she acts like a hostage,” he said.

“She was being terrorised by this man, who kidnapped her and took her to a place in the middle of nowhere. It was psychological terrorism.

“She wanted to stay on his good side — as the alternative was to die.”

‘I CAN’T FIGHT OFF TWO GROWN MEN’

Reliving the moment she was allegedly abducted, Ms Ayling tells 60 Minutes: “I was about to put my hand on the door that said ‘Studio’, just to open it, check if anyone was there and what’s when I was attacked from behind.

“One person put his arm around my neck and the other hand with a glove on my mouth and my nose. And another masked man rushed in front of me and held a syringe to my arm.

“Obviously, I was trying to fight back because I didn’t want that to go into my arm.

“I was trying to make a fist, but I can’t fight off two grown men, so they managed to get the syringe into my wrist and then I was unconscious.”

She opened her eyes to discover “restraints on my mouth”, she said.

“I didn’t know what it was at first. And I had hands in my handcuffs, and my ankles were handcuffed as well,” she says.

“I was trying to feel where I am, I heard the engine so I knew I was in a moving car. I started shouting ‘driver!’ like as loud as I could.

“They didn’t say anything. Not a word.”

She says she was injected with Ketamine. Bartlett observes Ketamine can also be “a party drug, can’t it?”, and asks, “Have you ever had it before?”

She replies: “No. I don’t do drugs, I don’t even drink, really.”

If convicted, Herba faces up to 25 years in prison for abduction. His trial continues.

60 Minutes airs on Sunday at 8.40pm on Channel 9

Bonk ban: ‘I don’t think we should be bed-sniffing’

HOURS after Malcolm Turnbull announced his now aptly-nicknamed “bonk ban”, the Q & A panel has slammed the Prime Minister’s decision, calling it a “gross overreach”.

Thursday night’s Q & A – a special episode for the #MeToo movement – stepped carefully when it came to discussing the global campaign.

But when Barnaby Joyce’s sex life came up, specifically how it inspired Mr Turnbull to ban sexual relationships between ministers and staffers, the panel didn’t hold back.

Josh Bornstein, a prominent workplace lawyer who has dealt with a number of sexual harassment cases, called it a “panicked response” and said it “detracts from the Me Too movement”.

Mr Joyce’s relationship with his former staffer Vikki Campion — albeit an affair and the one that ruined his 24-year marriage — is and was consensual.

“My view might be totally out of line but it’s that consensual relationships are perfectly OK at work. I don’t have a difficulty — despite some of the issues with Barnaby Joyce — he’s had a consensual relationship with a 33-year-old woman who is perfectly able to decide,” Mr Bornstein said.

“The bonk ban is a gross overreach,” he added.

Mr Bornstein’s sentiment was supported by Janet Albrechtsen, a columnist for The Australian.

Ms Albrechtsen has been particularly outspoken about the #MeToo movement over the past few months, expressing concerns it is promoting a social media mob mentality.

In regards to Mr Turnbull’s decision to ban sex amongst those working in Parliament, Ms Albrechtsen said Australia was getting on a “very fast train” and “we don’t quite know where it’s going to go”.

The decision to ban sex in the workplace is a difficult rule to enforce as, all the panellists agreed, a large number of people meet their partners in the workplace.

And as Josh Bornstein jokingly put, “can you imagine what would happen to the halls of the ABC if the bonking ban … would there be anybody left?”

Prime Minister Turnbull slammed his deputy’s decision to start a relationship with his former staffer in a press conference earlier Thursday.

“I think we know that the real issue is the terrible hurt and humiliation that Barnaby, by his conduct, has visited upon his wife, Natalie, and their daughters and, indeed, his new partner,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Barnaby made a shocking error of judgment in having an affair with a young woman working in his office. In doing so, he has set off a world of woe for those women and appalled all of us. Our hearts go out to them,” he added.

Ms Albrechtsen said the Prime Minister setting himself up as the “morality police” would be a difficult thing to enforce.

“How do you enforce this? Do we have a grandfathering provision for those currently in a relationship? A transition?” she said.

But relating the #MeToo movement to Barnaby Joyce’s relationship and baby with his former staffer is something that shouldn’t be happening, Q & A panellist and a pioneering sexual harassment professor Catharine Lumby said.

“We’re talking about abuse of power when we’re talking about sexual harassment. If we’re talking about consenting adults and things are safe and consensual, I don’t think we should be bed-sniffing, personally,” the Macquarie University professor said.

Earlier Thursday, the ABC expressed its disappointment over Charles Waterstreet’s decision to withdraw from Thursday night’s Q & A panel.

Mr Waterstreet, a controversial Sydney barrister who has been accused of sexual harassment and inappropriate comments, withdrew from the #MeToo edition late on Wednesday night.

The high-profile barrister has always denied the allegations, but made the decision after he was contacted by the NSW Bar Association’s President Arthur Moses.

Mr Moses wrote to Mr Waterstreet informing him “it was his firm view that it was neither appropriate or prudent for him to appear on the Q and A television program to discuss issue concerning the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement.”

Despite withdrawing from the panel, Mr Waterstreet wasn’t spared from Thursday night’s discussion.

When introducing fellow lawyer Mr Bornstein, the panel’s host Virginia Trioli said, “Josh, I’ll start with you — our only male panellist tonight — which wasn’t our intention, but that’s what we’ve ended up with.”

Ms Albrechtsen however, defended Mr Waterstreet, saying he was the sort of person who needed to be a part of the #MeToo conversation when asked about alienating men.

“Charles Waterstreet would not have come under pressure, for example, from the Bar Association to come on, because these kind of voices are the ones that need to be part of the conversation,” she said.

“When we start excluding voices — as happened here tonight with Charles Waterstreet — I think that’s really sad,” she added.

Lambie’s heartbreaking letter to her children

IN AN emotional interview, former senator Jacqui Lambie has spoken about the dark moment she contemplated suicide and the heartbreaking letter she wrote her sons.

In a preview clip ahead of an interview to be shown on the The Sunday Project tonight, Ms Lambie breaks down as she speaks to Lisa Wilkinson about her suicide attempt.

“Did you see the car coming and make a decision to walk in front of it?” Wilkinson asked.

Ms Lambie said: “I just remember thinking this is it, I’ve had it, this is it, I’ve just had it, I can’t do this anymore”.

The former Tasmanian senator also revealed she had written letters to her sons before attempting to take her own life.

RELATED: Lambie tells of battle with addiction and life as a single mum

“They were just short. Just telling them that I had become a burden and I was no use to them anymore,” she said, tears in her eyes.

Ms Lambie has previously described how her youngest child, Dylan, became her “main carer” at the age of just seven after she slipped into a downward spiral of depression and began to abuse alcohol and prescription drugs.

A debilitating injury during a 1997 training exercise while carrying a heavy weight on her back ended her much-loved career as a military police officer.

She was forced to go on a disability pension after the Department of Veterans’ Affiars terminated her incapacity payment and ended up, in the words of her son, “shutting herself off from the world”.

“I got worse then the psychological side of it started to set in. Depression basically and then, you know, eventually over five or six years then it went into alcohol abuse, pharmaceutical,” Ms Lambie told the ABC’s Australian Story program.

Ms Lambie’s son, Dylan, said his mother “moped around at home” as she became increasingly “shut off from the world”.

Ms said her son turned to drugs at the ag of 13 as he struggled to deal with the responsibilities foisted upon him at an early age.

“By the time he was 13 he was, he was taking drugs and, um, you know? So you’re trying to deal with yourself and trying to deal with him. And, yeah he, he, um. Yeah, he’s paid the price for that.”

In 2009, Ms Lambie’s long fight with the Department of Veterans Affairs — who accused her of “malingering” — drove her to attempt suicide by walking out in front of car, she said.

“Most days you’ll wake up and think I’ve really got to take my life. I’m of no benefit to my own children let alone anybody else,” she said.

“I’d written a letter to the boys each and left them in my drawer and I just said, ‘Right here’s a perfect opportunity’.

“I had a few drinks and off I went. I walked out in front of a car, I’d had enough, I’d had a gutful. That was it, I was finished, I was gone.”

Ms Lambie lost her two front teeth in the crash, which left her injured and badly scarred. But the incident proved a turning point and led to her “getting back off the alcohol”.

Her interview on The Project comes ahead of the release of her book Rebel With a Cause, and includes discussion of her time in the army, her troubled dealings with Veterans’ Affairs and what she really thinks of Malcolm Turnbull and Barnaby Joyce.

“One thing is for sure, Jacqui doesn’t hold back in our interview. And from talking to people on the street, it’s that same no-holds-barred honesty that means she will get their vote in the next election,” Wilkinson said.

Ms Lambie’s bid to return to the Senate was dashed last week after the High Court formally cleared former Devonport mayor Steve Martin to replace her.

Ms Lambie had been trying to expel him from her party, the Jacqui Lambie Network.

The High Court decision was made despite reports Mr Martin had been dumped from the JLN this week over a “lack of commitment”.

In a letter released to media on Wednesday, Ms Lambie said Mr Martin had broken the values of “mateship, respect and integrity” by terminating staff members he said he would retain.

But Justice Geoffrey Nettle said Ms Lambie should have brought forward any challenge to Mr Martin’s election months ago.

“There is no appearance (in court) on behalf of Ms Lambie, or any evidence in support of what is said to have happened in the press,” Justice Nettle told the court, sitting in Melbourne.

“It has not been established that Mr Martin has ceased to be a member of the Jacqui Lambie Network party.

“It is declared that Steve Martin be duly elected as a senator for the state of Tasmania.”

Mr Martin was appointed after an electoral recount following Ms Lambie’s forced resignation when she learned she was a dual British citizen. But he ignored her pleas to step aside to allow her to reclaim her senate seat after renouncing her citizenship.

Mr Martin is expected to be sworn into the Senate in Canberra on Monday.

— With AAP

Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14. Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467.

Keller’s emotional chat with co-host about cancer treatment

BARRY Du Bois has given a moving account about his chemo progress since his plasmacytoma myeloma returned in October of last year.

Speaking on the Amanda and Jonesy’s radio show, the segment got off to a sentimental start when Amanda Keller, introduced her The Living Room co-host to the sound of Barry’s “karaoke song”, Drive by Alan Jackson. Holding back tears, the radio host remarked, “buggar, I didn’t want to cry”.

Du Bois, 57, was similarly emotional from the beginninging saying, “you got me with that song”.

But the father-of-two, designer and builder was positive about his progress thus far.

He said: “Last night was the best night I’ve had for a while. I feel great. I’ve had a rough week, there’s no doubt about it, and, yeah, it’s been a struggle, but overall I feel pretty good.”

“I feel like my progress is more advanced than where the doctor’s want it, which I’m excited about. I’ve said from the outset, you know, I was going to do everything possible to make this the best journey it can be and the results of that are starting to pay-off, so I’m excited.”

Du Bois said he underwent the four rounds of chemo and stem cell and bone marrow retrieval at the end of last year and is now going through the toughest part of the process.

He’s just been in hospital this week for a “lethal” injection of chemo, followed by a stem cell and bone marrow transplant.

“It takes about ten days for you to get to your weakest, which is about today for me, my white blood cells are at zero at the moment. But it also takes ten days for the stem cells to start seeding, so I’m hoping today they’re going to start seeding, or growing, in my body … I’m going to have another couple of bad days, while I’m at this very low point, and then, the trick is I’ll start bouncing back,” he said.

Du Bois was first diagnosed with plasmacytoma myeloma in 2011 and made the heartbreaking announcement in October last year that it had returned and more aggressively than his previous diagnosis.

Talking about the Living Room episode airing tonight, which features a segment on cancer research, presented by Keller with an appearance from Du Bois, Keller teared up again telling Du Bois, “I just miss you, I just miss you.”

Unwaveringly positive, Du Bois replied, “let’s not be upset, let’s be really positive, I’m excited about the show tonight.”

On the topic of when exactly he’s scheduled to return to the Channel Ten show, he said “it might be a month or so yet, I am weak there’s no doubt about it. But still stronger than the average bloke they reckon.”

He praised the constant, “honest support” he’s been receiving from his fellow hosts, audiences, nurses and doctors that has helped him through the process.

“It’s just incredible, it’s an incredible inspiration for me and a real uplifting experience for me as well,” he said.

Why Tony Abbott went to a gay wedding

HER parents voted ‘No’ in last years same-sex marriage postal vote. Her brother, Tony Abbott, actively campaigned against it.

But when Christine Forster married long-time partner Virginia Edwards last Friday, they were there to join the celebrations.

The only sad note was Christine wishing her father, Dick Abbott, who passed away just before Christmas, could have been there to celebrate.

But there were times that both the wedding — and having her family in attendance — seemed impossible, Christine told ABC’s Australian Story on Monday.

While some wonder how the former PM could have the hide to fight so hard against his sister having the right to marry, then front at the wedding., the nuptials showed not even diametrically-opposed views could overcome, in the end, the family bonds of the Abbotts, Christine and Virginia revealed.

“Tony and I, I hope, we have been able to demonstrate that even though we have diametrically opposed views, and sometimes one or the other might say something that really pisses the other off, ultimately you keep it respectful, you still love each other, you’re still family. And it’s not any reason to have a cataclysmic bust-up,” Christine said.

Even amid the regret for the heartbreak their journey to the altar had caused, Australian Story revealed lighter times: like how Tony was looking forward to a wedding he hadn’t yet been invited to.

And how mum, Fay, “resurrected” a navy dress for the wedding she’d bought “because I might have needed it for the Liberal party, before Tony got the knife”.

TONY ALMOST DIDN’T GET AN INVITE

Watching footage off Abbott in the wake of the success of the Yes vote, in which Tony said: “I certainly don’t pretend to be an overnight convert to support the same sex marriage, but I am looking forward to attending the marriage of my sister Christine to her partner, Virginia.”. Christine was quick on the draw.

“And I thought that was a bit presumptuous. Um, you haven’t got your invitation yet, buddy,” she said.

“But I expect him to be there.”

It may have been touch and go at some times of the debate, but Christine revealed Abbott was always on the invite list.

In fact, as two families reeled from the bombshell of both women breaking up their marriages to be with each other, it was Tony and wife Margie who had been the first to welcome the Christine and Virginia into their home.

But the show revealed the pair’s journey was far from plain sailing.

CRACKS IN PERFECT MARRIAGE

FROM the outside, Christine Forster’s marriage looked perfect.

Husband, kids, love, great family, and friends.

Christine was the linchpin — the busy mum, The one who had her parents and grandparents over for dinner every Sunday.

Christine’s sister, Pip thought the marriage was “ideal”.

Until the bombshell.

In 2008, Christine and Virginia, both married, with six kids between them, met dropping their sons off at daycare.

The clicked, and quickly became best friends.

And then, they realised it was something more.

“I fell in love with her and I fell hard,” said Christine, who told Australian Story she had come to the “slow realisation” in her 30s that she was sexually attracted to women.

“It hit me like a tonne of bricks and it was terrifying. It was something I just couldn’t control, it was such an overwhelming emotion.”

“If I’d grown up in a bohemian environment, I probably would’ve come out at the age of 18 or 19, but I grew up in a family where your values were Menzies-era.

“You couldn’t consider being gay, that wasn’t part of our world.”

The two women wrestled with their realisation, and the devastating impact it would have on far more than just them.

They had an affair, then broke it off.

A year later they did the unthinkable.

“We had six children and two families that were going to be catastrophically blown off the planet by Christine and I doing what we needed to do, and that was to be together,” Virginia told Australian Story.

They announced they were each leaving the marriages. They’d met someone else. And they were gay.

REGRET

“If I could have my time over again, I would have done many things differently. I made mistake, after mistake, after mistake which, I know, has hurt many of the people involved and … I really regret that,” Christine said.

“The girls were in their teens and that’s a particularly sensitive period for any girl. Here they are the girls are just getting to the point in their lives where they need their mum the most.

“And I was just caught up in something that, you know, a maelstrom of, of emotion and, and, and having to deal with, you know, the, this major crisis of my own. And I know that I wasn’t there for them when they, when they needed me.”

To say her parents were shocked was “and understatement”.

“We had had marriage breakdowns in my family. My sister Pip’s marriage had ended, and that didn’t cause the seismic ructions that the end of my marriage did,” Christine said.

“Dad particularly expressed his unhappiness with what was happening.”

Virginia’s daughter hated Christine for the first year — “she was a friend that had been a part of the family and that had come in and almost taken my mum from my dad.”.

She’s says she softened when she saw the strength of the pair’s love.

TONY

Long before last year’s same-sex marriage debate, Christine and Tony had clashed publicly on the issue.

“Tony’s version of marriage is not the same as mine. End of story,” Christine said.

Yet Tony and wife Margie “got their heads around the whole bombshell probably quicker than any other members of my family,” Christine said.

They were first to welcome the new couple into their home.

But as the same-sex marriage debate gathered force, the brother and sisters’ diametrically opposed views were increasingly played out in public.

“And we had these cycles of hope and then let down, hope and then let down in terms of political outcomes,” Christine said.

“And most of those let downs were due to my brother, to be honest.

“We’d all build up our hopes that we were going to get a conscience vote, and then Tony would kibosh it.”

When Tony questioned the role of her and Virginia as parents during a radio interview, Virginia had had enough.

She pulled him aside, furiously, privately.

“It’s not okay to use your sister as a political football,” she told him.

Tony told Australian Story it was“very sad, what happened”.

“But in the end, everyone has to accept that for Chris, things changed, and we have to adjust accordingly. We don’t have to agree with everyone, even our closest friends, even family members,” he said.

“I accept that people do disagree. It doesn’t mean they don’t like each other. It doesn’t mean they can’t love each other. We don’t have to agree with everyone, even our closest friends, even family members.”

As he walked into the wedding last week, he said he was looking forward to welcoming his sister-in-law to the family.

Andrew Bolt hurt in 3.5m tree fall

HERALD Sun columnist Andrew Bolt injured several ribs and a wrist in a bad fall, delaying his 2018 return to Australia’s most popular political blog and weekly columns.

Bolt fell 3.5m from a ladder while pruning a tree at home.

He hurt several ribs and injured his left wrist, which had to be pinned.

Bolt said it could have been worse however, landing on a patch of grass between a concrete bench and path.

“I was very fortunate,” he said.

Bolt’s popular column is set to make its return to the Herald Sun and heraldsun.com.au on Monday, February 5, and he will return to blogging in coming days.

Bolt is also scheduled to return to his Sky television show on February 5.

‘Rake’ barrister on #MeToo panel

CONTROVERSIAL Sydney barrister Charles Waterstreet is set to air his views on the #MeToo anti-sexual harassment movement on ABC’s Q&A.

Waterstreet will join the panel on next Monday’s show, alongside actress Rachel Griffiths, Gender studies Professor Catherine Lumby and lawyer Josh Bornstein.

The topic will be “Where to for #MeToo in 2018?”.

Waterstreet has himself been accused of sexual harassment and making inapppropriate coments to a young female paralegal.

The high-profile barrister has vehemently denied the allegations.

The appointment of the barrister, who inspired the hit TV series Rake about a fictitious lecherous lawyer, has raised eyebrows on Twitter.

But it will no doubt fire up some serious debate on Q&A’s first episode of 2018, which will be hosted by Virginia Trioli.

The Q&A episode will air on February 8.